Players on the Hot Seat in College Football Week 3

Carl Stine@@CFBAllDayCorrespondent ISeptember 14, 2012

Players on the Hot Seat in College Football Week 3

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    This list is about pressure.

    The 10 players featured herein are certainly on the hot seat this week and attracting national attention.

    While many of these players are quarterbacks, every one of them could have a say in which teams play in a BCS bowl at the end of the season.

    SEC upstarts and backups will get scrutinized, Notre Dame heads into East Lansing, and the Big East has a legitimate Heisman contender (at least for the month of September).

    This weekend every football player in the country faces some degree of pressure, but the 10 guys on this list are going to feel it the most.

10. Andrew Maxwell, QB, Michigan State

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    The Big Ten has no legitimate threat to finish the season undefeated, except Michigan State.

    Even though the key to the Spartans' success this season will be the play of quarterback Andrew Maxwell, the rushing game is solid, the defense is ridiculously solid and Mark Dantonio is one of the best coaches in the Big Ten.

    Maxwell carries the hope of the Spartans, as well as the flag of the Big Ten, into MSU's meeting with Notre Dame this weekend.

    Maxwell threw three interceptions in his debut against Boise State, then cut that down to none in MSU's game against Central Michigan in Week 2.

    The pressure will be on Maxwell to perform at the top of his game against a stout Notre Dame defense.

9. Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA

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    Franklin has evolved into a monster.

    The Bruins face Houston this week, and a defense that is porous at best.

    Franklin's year has gotten off to a great start. After totaling only five touchdowns on the ground last season, he's already scored three times this year and tied his receiving touchdown total from last season.

    The Bruins will win easily.

    But the pressure comes Franklin's way due to his excellent performance so far this season.

    He will be expected to continue to produce at a high level.

    For this game, that's no problem.

8. Matt McGloin, QB, Penn State

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    It's been an incredibly tough season for the Nittany Lions.

    Two tough losses that have been hard to swallow and no prospect of things getting better.

    McGloin, PSU's starting quarterback, needs to step up this week against Navy, as the Lions desperately need a win.

    McGloin has been decent this season, only letting himself get sacked once and only throwing one interception.

    The pressure is on him to make the next step in his maturation process and carry this team.

7. Wake Forest Defense

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    Florida State and quarterback E.J. Manuel are off to a blistering start, averaging 62 points a game—although those numbers have been put up against Murray State and Savannah State.

    Wake Forest must now find a way to prove that this is a result of lower-level competition and not an explosive 'Noles offense.

    Wake pulled the upset last season against the Seminoles, but this year FSU will be at home and the Deacons have their work cut out for them.

6. James Franklin, QB, Missouri

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    Quarterback James Franklin and the Tigers are coming off a tough loss to Georgia in their SEC opener, and now they must travel out west to face Arizona State.

    Doesn't sound like too much trouble, and Mizzou should win; however, ASU has shown some vicious tendencies on defense.

    The Sun Devils are tied for sixth in the nation in tackles for loss and third in the nation in sacks.

    Franklin is going to literally be under pressure against a feisty defense in a game that the Tigers need to win.

5. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

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    North Carolina may not be going to a postseason game, but the defense has still found some motivation and been better than expected.

    Teddy Bridgewater has been superb for the Cardinals, completing 49-of-60 attempts so far this season and helping Louisville to a 2-0 start.

    This will be the toughest defense he has yet to face, and it will provide the young gunslinger with an interesting challenge in Week 3.

4. Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee

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    Tyler Bray has been very good this year, leading the Vols to wins against N.C. State and Georgia State.

    Now things get real.

    Will the Vols be legit contenders in the SEC, or were those wins a flash in the pan?

    Many of the answers to those questions rest in the hands of Bray and his ability to move the ball against a vicious yet susceptible Florida defense.

    Bray's ability to take the next step this weekend against the Gators will be the determining factor in how well Tennessee performs in the SEC this season.

3. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin

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    No running back has dominated college football recently the way that Ball did in 2010 and 2011.

    He finished last season in some pretty heady company, tying Barry Sanders' NCAA record for touchdowns in a season with 39.

    He found himself in New York as a Heisman finalist, and he won accolades for his ability to score—and score a ton.

    Before last weekend's loss to Oregon State, Ball had found the end zone, rushing the ball for 20 straight games.

    With only one touchdown so far this season, his team in a shambles and several rushing records in sight, Ball needs to put on his "big-boy pants" and step up.

2. Arkansas Quarterbacks

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    One week ago, Tyler Wilson was considered a Heisman candidate and a lock to be picked early in the first round of next year's NFL draft.

    Then ULM shocked Arkansas, and Wilson was knocked out of the game early with an injury "above the shoulders," which proved to be the result of a "hit to the head."

    Arkansas' best chance to win against Alabama this week will be with Wilson at the helm, and with the No. 1 team in the nation invading, the spotlight will be on that quarterback position.

    With Wilson "uncertain" for Saturday's action, redshirt freshman Brandon Allen is the next man up against the toughest defense in the nation.

    No matter who starts, all the attention of the SEC will be focused on the Hogs' quarterback performance.

1. Everett Golson, QB, Notre Dame

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    Golson faces his biggest task of the year this weekend in a Michigan State defense that is absolutely destructive.

    Last week against Purdue he showed slight improvement in the passing game, but he will be forced to make faster, better and more efficient decisions against an elite Michigan State defense.

    With the Golden Domers heading down the road toward respectability this season, a win in this one would affirm the fact that they are prepared to head toward a BCS game—a loss would prove to the nation that they are again overrated.

    The key player in this matchup is Golson, and it will be worth your while to watch closely and see how well he handles the pressure.